2010 Alban Vineyards "Patrina" Central Coast Syrah
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
First made in 2008, and available only through distribution (i.e. not via the mailing list), the 2010 Patrina is a perfect entry into the wines of the estate. Made from 100% Syrah (from a variety of estate vineyards) and aged two years in 70% new French oak, it’s one hell of an entry-level effort and boasts gorgeously pure aromatics (cassis, raspberry, flowers, spice), full-bodied richness and an overall layered, fresh profile that’s hard to resist. While it doesn’t have the back-end depth of the single vineyard releases, it doesn’t skimp on texture and length. Enjoy it over the coming 5-8 years. Drink now-2021. Located at the very southern end of the Edna Valley and residing in its own little micro climate, Alban Vineyards, under the guidance of John Alban, is a reference point for Rhone varieties in the world today. Looking at the vintages reviewed here, both 2009 and 2010 are strong, with the 2009s possessing plenty of sweet fruit and relatively approachable profiles, and the 2010s showing slightly more structure, with lively acidity and big frames that will fill in once bottled. As is common with John’s Syrahs, these continue to gain in richness and depth as they mature in barrel (they see upwards of 4 years in barrel) and really don’t show all of their material and richness until 4-5 years after the vintage.
The 2010 Syrah Patrina impresses for its silky, perfumed personality. A harbinger of what is to come with the rest of the Alban 2010s stylistically, the Patrina is drop-dead gorgeous. Fine, silky tannins support a core of expressive dark red fruits in a delineated, vibrant wine. Today, the bouquet is a bit reduced, otherwise, this is a fine showing. If the aromatics come together more fully the 2010 will merit a higher score. Nevertheless, the 2010 is a terrific effort in a year that was quite challenging for Grenache because of the poor set. None of Alban Syrahs can be said to be inexpensive, but this is one of the best relative values and hidden gems in the range. Drinking window: 2013 - 2022 John Alban's 2009s are just as beautiful from bottle as they were from barrel. Overall, the wines are relatively open, succulent and accessible, although the most structured wines in this range will clearly benefit from further time in bottle. Alban fans will also want to check out the Forsythe The Mason (Mourvedre) as well as two new wines being made under the North label, all listed separately in this issue.
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
Bright purple. Heady scents of blueberry, boysenberry and cassis, with a smoky topnote. Broad, sappy and nicely concentrated, offering sweet dark fruit flavors complemented by notes of Indian spices, olive, and bitter chocolate. A rich, deep but lively syrah that finishes spicy and long, with very soft tannins. Alban told me that this fruit was picked at a very low 21.8 Brix, in November.